ttc operators

7 things TTC bus drivers wish you knew

Like most service jobs, working for the TTC can be thankless. There are perks including pay, benefits and pension, but it comes at the cost of being the first person furious riders lash out at. And of course, it requires having to sit in Toronto traffic all day. Though they make it look simple, operating large buses isn't as easy as it seems.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind next time you find yourself riding a TTC bus in Toronto.

1. They probably don't know where the side street you're looking for is

A lot of transit riders seem to believe that since bus drivers are constantly travelling through the city, they'll know where every street is. The truth is, if it's not a major street or part of a stop on the route, most of them won't. 

Many of the transit operators in the city actually commute in from outside of Toronto and as a result aren't as familiar with the finer details of the neighbourhood.

If you're searching for a particular road or shop, your fellow riders are far more likely to be able to help as chances are they're local to the area.

2. Working for the TTC requires A LOT of training and testing

Working as a transit operator can require about half a dozen tests and a practical driving test that all require scores of 80 per cent or better. Some tests even require a perfect score.

For prospective employees, failing any one of these tests can result in immediate dismissal. Even longtime transit operators are expected to recertify every few years. Failure to pass can lead to retraining and could even result in reprimand without pay.

Needless to say, it's a difficult job but every employee has proven they're capable of it.

3. They're human, your words hurt

For some reason, frustrated transit riders love to lash out at bus drivers as if everything is their fault. Not only are the delays, short turns, or traffic not their fault, but they're probably just as frustrated with them as you are.

Assaulting an employee because circumstances beyond their control inconvenienced you is never acceptable.

"I've been cussed at, chewed out, sworn at, issued a death threat, and intentionally spat on," one TTC employee explained. "I have yet to be punched, kicked or otherwise physically assaulted. Yet, I believe it's just a matter of time."

4. You have the power to make change

Transit operators are not suggestion boxes. If there is something you dislike about the way the TTC operates, telling them is unlikely to solve much at all.

That being said, riders have far more power to affect change than they think.

The TTC doesn't listen to its operators nearly as much as it listens to its customers. If you want to request a change to the schedule, route, or anything else, be sure to reach out to the TTC directly by calling, tweeting, or sending an email to make your voice heard.

5. They can't always stop and wait for you

As much as many transit operators would like to, even if they see you running for the bus, it isn't always possible to stop and wait for a passenger to catch up. Routes are expected to run on a tight schedule and stopping to wait for one person could mean hundreds of other people being furious the bus is late. 

There's also the matter of safety, as having a bus stop and idle forces the traffic around it to adapt. In situations when the bus has already started to pull away, suddenly stopping again could catch other drivers by surprise.

Everyone knows how frustrating it can be to see the bus you need pull away as you're only seconds away, but at least in some situations, the next one will is only a few minutes behind.

6. They like their riders but are also trying to focus

Transit operators aren't as cold as they appear to be while sitting behind a barrier. In reality, they're just trying to focus on doing a safe job driving passengers around the city.

Navigating a giant bus through Toronto traffic isn't as easy as some make it look. As a result, drivers need to stay focused at all times watching our for other vehicles, pedestrians, bikers, and anything that may be on the road.

If you do decide to engage a TTC operator in conversation, make sure to at least do it safely and stay behind the white line.

7. They don't always know the other driver they're waving to

The wave that many TTC riders notice when two buses pass each other isn't always the result of two pals crossing paths. In many cases, it's more of a case of camaraderie for another transit operator.

"Nothing is more heartbreaking than not getting a wave back," one TTC operator joked. "We might know each other. We get really excited if we do."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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